Re-thinking Australia’s Trade Agreements: Risk versus Sovereignty

Stream: Panel 65 - International Relations: Global Political Economy 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 9.00 am – 10.30 am


Australia’s import tariffs have dropped substantially now in Australia being on average 5% or less. From an economic perspective, trade deals have largely done their job. Yet, despite the economic success, Australia and other countries continue to pursue FTA’s. While there is economic reason to negotiate on services and sovereign risks, there is much more at play including sovereignty itself. In this paper, we look at FTA’s in addition to legal and economic specifics, as powerful political tools. We develop a sovereign risk-rewards matrix that looks holistically at trade documents in a genuinely cross-disciplinary way, rather than just trying to analyse them in a compartmentalised reductionistic way. We look at Australia’s trade agreements from a top down genuinely cross-disciplinary way. From the perspective of the international affairs, whether or not an FTA is entered with any one or group of countries is important indicator of strategic alliance. Entering an agreement is both a symbolic recognition of past actions and of future intent. The Australia-USA FTA, for example, was seen as a political reward for John Howard for Australia’s participation in the “Coalition of the Willing” in the second Iraq war. Indeed, it could be argued that these FTA’s could be seen as a proxy for mutual defence treaties.


Craig Applegate (Presenter), University of Canberra
Craig Applegate is an Assistant Professor in Economics.

Chris Sadleir (Presenter), University of Canberra
Chris Sadeir is an Assistant Professor in politics

Geoff Nicoll, University of Canberra
Geoff Nicoll is a Senior Lecturer in Law

Greg Mahony, University of Canberra
Greg Mahony is an Assistant Professor in Economics

Benedict Sheehy, University of Canberra
Benedict Sheehy is an Associate Professor in Law

Ben Freyens, University of Canberra
Ben Freyens is an Associate Professor in Economics

Jenny Fu, University of Canberra
Jenny Fu is an Assistant Professor in Law

Dalma Demeter, University of Canberra
Dalma Demeter is an Assistant Professor in Law